MANY people make New Year's resolutions at the beginning of every year. Often they don't expect them to last very long, and their resolutions may represent fond hopes rather than realistic expectations. But every gesture of leaving the past behind and letting the present bring its own new blessings is important. And this doesn't have to be done at the beginning of January. Any day will do. To persist in reliving an unhappy past can undermine the possibilities of our improving the present and the future. Likewise, to judge the present by an uneventful past can stultify initiative. And to dwell on a happy past can make present changes unwelcome. All of these tendencies can cause us to be less resilient and less responsive to today's challenges instead of meeting them as they come along with fresh inspiration.
How can we learn to do this more consistently, to insist on looking up instead of either looking back sadly or looking forward wistfully? Human doggedness and determination aren't enough. What's needed is regeneration -- a transformation of thought from a material basis to a spiritual one, a continual yielding to the care and guidance of God, the one ever-present divine Mind. This Mind alone is the true source of our thoughts. It tells us of the constancy of good and of its availability now. To feel the influence of the divine Mind through prayer is to discern the tangible presence of good, dissolving the mesmeric sense that we're products of a material past. It's to glimpse something of our spiritual, eternally satisfied selfhood.
A friend who once was staying with us said to me, ``You know, it really is time you took that chip off your shoulder.'' This startled me, because I wasn't conscious of any ``chip.'' But as I thought about it more I realized that I was carrying around a feeling of being handicapped as a result of past experience. I saw that this was preventing me from savoring to the full the possibilities the present was offering, and although it wasn't New Year's Day I resolved to remedy the situation.
I thought of a statement that Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered and founded Christian Science, makes in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: ``To those leaning on the sustaining infinite, to-day is big with blessings.''1 I pondered this statement every morning, and then when I went to bed at night I remembered and acknowledged every good thing the day had brought. This wasn't a question of mere positive thinking but of yielding to God's loving will and government. Before long my outlook had changed considerably, and my experience responded to this more expectant state of thought.
The Psalmist said: ``O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the Lord our maker. For he is our God; and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand.''2 Our God tells us of good now, which includes no taint of limitation or repetitiveness.
The power of Christ, of the divine influence expressed so fully in Jesus' life, is at hand today and always to help us see the possibilities of this moment. It's at hand to show us more clearly who we really are. For the man God makes isn't a mortal with a chip on his shoulder. He isn't a material personality of any kind, bound by past experience, proud of his successes and haunted by his failures. Man is the image, the expression, of God, the continuing beneficiary of God's infinite goodness.
The Discoverer of Christian Science writes: ``We own no past, no future, we possess only now. If the reliable now is carelessly lost in speaking or in acting, it comes not back again. Whatever needs to be done which cannot be done now, God prepares the way for doing; while that which can be done now, but is not, increases our indebtedness to God. Faith in divine Love supplies the ever-present help and now, and gives the power to `act in the living present.'''3
This isn't just facile optimism. It's a recognition of the constant activity of divine Mind, governing every aspect of man's being.
1Science and Health, p. vii. 2Psalms 95:6, 7. 3The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, p. 12. You can find more articles like this one in the Christian Science Sentinel, a weekly magazine. DAILY BIBLE VERSE: Now is the accepted time; now is the day of salvation. II Corinthians 6:2